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Reasons for writing this digital placemaking book

We have witnessed digital technologies evolve at speed over the last decade, with the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating digital transformation by an average of three to seven years in only a matter of months. With this, there has been a fundamental shift in the ways in which we understand the world and interact with places in the 21st century.

I have been researching and exploring the relationship between people, place, technology and data for a good number of years now, and regular readers of my insight articles will know I believe digital placemaking should be an integral part of all place strategies – from its unique ability to deepen people’s relationships, experiences and connections with places, to being able to significantly boost a place’s socio-economic value.

Calvium has received great feedback to the articles and we are excited to see a growing number of place professionals seeking to deepen their understanding of the opportunities that digital placemaking affords.

Spurred on by this enthusiasm for an area that Calvium is so passionate about, we have gathered and recast a series of articles into a comprehensive book, with the aim of supporting place leaders to create better place experiences through the positive and innovative use of digital technologies.

Any placemaker looking to shape their destinations in ways that offer multiple experiences for all visitors and residents should harness digital placemaking, and I hope this book will act as a springboard for practice and possibility.

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What’s inside?

The book is edited in a way that offers a coherent, holistic and accessible look into digital placemaking and encompasses a broad set of themes, sectors and narratives, as listed below. While it can be read in one sitting, it can equally be read in bite-size chunks and you will still come out with insight and understanding.

The book itself is made up of 24 articles split into eight segments; aligned to the segments of Calvium’s ‘Digital Placemaking: Experience Design Toolkit’ framework. Each of these segments, which we developed through a creative workshop undertaken with London’s Cadogan Estates, contains three articles. These are:

  • Social & Leisure
  • Arts & Culture
  • Heritage & Identity
  • Mobility & Access
  • Environment
  • Economics and Project Value
  • Improving the Public Realm
  • Stewardship

What you will learn

Amid this rapid pace of technological change, this book will ensure you have a 21st century perspective for shaping 21st century place experiences. If you are not harnessing digital products, services and experiences in 2021, then you are working at a deficit and you are not going to succeed in the same way as those who already employ digital placemaking.

This book is written from a practitioner perspective and is thus grounded in practice – not theory. It provides a solid evidence base of the value of digital placemaking as a practice, and of incorporating digital placemaking into place strategies. So, if you are a place professional and looking to innovate and influence the direction of a digital placemaking strategy or decisions related to it, this is going to give you the insight and ammunition that will allow you to do just that.

Crucially, this collection re-enforces how digital technologies are central to how people build relationships with places – as social spaces, cultural places, economic places and environmental places – and it will show you how to harness the technology in a way that brings real value to places and experiences.

I draw on a variety of national and international case studies throughout, to show how digital placemaking works in practice in a variety of contexts and to ensure it offers insight when it comes to design, technology and user experience.

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Carnaby Echos app – created with the Place Experience Platform

Calvium’s Place Experience Platform, for example, highlights the benefits of being able to create digital placemaking experiences that are scalable, adaptable and have longevity. By focusing on the flexible nature of the platform, which allows place managers to change the stories of their places as and when they wish, it will show how digital placemaking can form a core part of any place manager’s long-term dynamic marketing collateral.

By contrast, The Lost Palace is an example of using digital placemaking in a way that is time-bound and specific to a location. While the Place Experience Platform allows place managers to update the stories of places and keep them fresh, The Lost Palace is designed to stand as a single theatrical piece and in one location. They serve different but equally valuable purposes.

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Historic Royal Palaces – Duncan McKenzie ©

NavSta, meanwhile, is an example I have chosen that demonstrates the importance of inclusive design for successful digital placemaking; and how the thoughtful application of digital technologies can improve people’s experience of a place. Indeed, NavSta went on to be highly commended at 2020’s ‘Neurodiverse Research of the Year’ awards and shows what you can achieve when you put inclusive research and design at the heart of the project.

Ultimately, this book should inspire placemakers to have a greater sense of the possibilities for their own places and will show you how to unlock the power of people, place and technology in a meaningful way.

What next?

The book is free to order in PDF format from our Resources page.

We will also carry on developing the Digital Placemaking: Experience Design Toolkit which influenced the structure of this book. It is important to note here that while the book is a sister product to the Toolkit, it is also a standalone resource.

Calvium will continue to be leaders in digital placemaking, collaborating with clients to enhance people’s experiences of destinations through innovative digital technologies.

Contact us to learn more about how the Place Experience Platform can bring the stories of your place to life and enrich the visitor experience.